What truly makes anyone the best at anything in professional sports? The standard can be defined when everyone in the stadium or arena knows the individual will get the ball and he or she still delivers.
Davante Adams is that dude among the NFL's wide receivers.
"He is the ultimate competitor," Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters. "I think he's the best receiver in the National Football League."
Everyone who watches the Packers knows quarterback Aaron Rodgers plans to throw Adams his fair share of targets each and every year. Yet opponents can't stop the 28-year-old first-team All-Pro.
The San Francisco 49ers almost did Sunday with an illegal fourth-quarter blow that, somehow, didn't result in a penalty. With 7:47 remaining, Rodgers pushed the ball downfield to Adams. The receiver had both cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and safety Jaquiski Tartt trailing in coverage. Fellow safety Jimmie Ward worked his way back to the ball and dislodged it successfully, though the hit was clearly helmet-to-helmet contact initiated by Ward on a defenseless receiver.
Adams slumped to the ground and needed assistance to the sideline. He returned to the game a couple of plays later.
"How I'm able to get through it is I'm different," Adams said after the Sunday Night Football affair. "It wasn't a concussion."
The receiver's return to the lineup proved instrumental to the Packers' eventual 30-28 victory at Levi's Stadium.
"I couldn't believe it," Rodgers admitted when asked about Adams' reentry into the lineup.
San Francisco left the Packers 37 seconds after what looked like the game-winning touchdown by Kyle Juszczyk. Rodgers is a bad man, though, and capable of taking over a contest at a moment's notice. But the reigning MVP needs help. Help usually comes from his favorite target. It did again Sunday.
Rodgers attempted three passes during the waning moments of the game. All three went toward Adams. Two of them were chunk plays to place the Packers in field-goal position.
To be fair, the quarterback threw a perfect dime to Adams over the outstretched arm of a dropping linebacker—All-Pro Fred Warner—and in front of the split safety look.
Still, Adams had to concentrate on making a crucial catch while making a slight adjustment to the pass while understanding the situation. Adams got to the ground, where the Packers were able to spike the ball for yet another opportunity.
Two plays later, Rodgers found Adams again for 17 yards to put them in field-goal position.
Mason Crosby sauntered onto the field for a 51-yard attempt. Boom. Game over. Packers win.
"In my mind, the game was over," Adams said of his thought process as he went off the field after his last catch. "[Crosby] kicks the leather out of the ball."
The receiver also explained Ward's hit primarily affected his breathing since the majority of contact came at his chest, per ESPN's Ed Werder. Basically, Adams took a licking and didn't stop ticking. He played a vital role in the Packers' moving to 2-1 overall and all alone in first place in the NFC North.
In total, his 12 receptions and 132 yards ranked second and first, respectively, among all Sunday performances. The most amazing aspect of Adams' performance is how well-rounded he is as a wide receiver. He excels running every route, as Underdog Fantasy's Josh Norris noted:
Adams' extensive target share is a testament to his reliability and versatility as a receiver. A trust level must be established between Rodgers and his targets. The quarterback is not going to throw the ball to a specific option with any regularity if a certain familiarity isn't achieved. In Adams' case, the four-time Pro Bowl selection has been targeted an average of 137 times over the previous five seasons. During that span, no quarterback-wide receiver duo has connected more times for more yardage or touchdowns, according to NBC's telecast.
A few other wide receivers are near-unstoppable when they get rolling.
Julio Jones can still be a dominating force when healthy, though his health has been a consistent area of concern. Michael Thomas' production took a significant step back due to injuries the past season-plus. DeAndre Hopkins is Mr. Reliable for the Arizona Cardinals, but Adams has been a better red-zone target. Stefon Diggs, DK Metcalf, Justin Jefferson and Calvin Ridley are all emerging stars, yet Adams has produced at an elite level for multiple seasons.
The Packers don't necessarily have a true No. 2 option in the passing game, either. Tight end Robert Tonyan is the closest. He played at a Pro Bowl level last season, but even so, consider the following: Rodgers targeted Adams 18 times Sunday. Everyone else on the Packers roster was targeted a combined 12 times.
Green Bay dares opponents to slow Adams when the Packers don't really have any other major threat in the passing game. They still can't. That's why Adams is the absolute best in the business at the moment.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.